Earlier this summer, an elderly friend of my husband's came to tea.I get on very well with Andrew, and over the years we've become close friends.Sometimes, he says, they do manage to reclaim some of the sexual hunger that brought them together all those years ago, but it's taken some doing."Over the course of our relationship," he writes, "we've strained and struggled and often lost track of the mutual fascination we had at the beginning.Sex, which could heal the damage after a blazing row in your 20s, is no longer an option to restore closeness because you are both just too tired or too grumpy.Eric recalls how he couldn't understand where Nancy's sexuality had gone. He would, he says, have been happy for her to have faked an interest in sex, but she wouldn't. Could so sexual a creature as the Nancy I had met years before have disappeared altogether?Josephine got through her midlife crisis by venturing outside her marriage to reaffirm her selfesteem.
Far from the twentysomething preconception that no one, but no one, has sex past the age of 35, what emerges is the inalienable fact that the middle-aged of today are very much alive and kicking in this respect, and bursting with all the needs, desires and passions which consumed us all those years ago. Eric Bartels, a middleincome professional writer, confesses that neither he nor his wife, both in their mid-50s, are as physically fit as they'd like to be, but they're both active and healthy now their children are grown up."The shift from guilt and fear to the ease and convenience of sex within marriage was only the first." She then describes how, after she was divorced in her 40s, sex ceased to be a make-or-break thing - instead, it had become something she could enjoy with a new sense of freedom which she couldn't have dreamed about in her 20s."Sex is a gorgeous way of connecting to another human being," she says.But they stuck with it and, as the demands on Nancy lessened as the children got older, they found their way back to each other - in bed.
Now when they make love, he says they do so on the shared foundation of their family and what they have built as a couple.
For some men who'd opted for vasectomies, there were physical problems to overcome to successfully make love to their wives again.